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Despite Perception Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith isn’t Going Anywhere

There’s a growing perception amongst Cowboys fans that Jaylon Smith is a bad linebacker. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2019 and 2020, was he as good as he was back in 2018? Not at all, but he’s not the terrible player people think he is.

Sure he celebrates at weird times, and he has some limitations, but he’s a player that the Dallas Cowboys continue to value. Why else would they allow his contract to become fully guaranteed after the 2021 NFL league year began?

Because the front office, Will McClay included, values his presence in a linebacker corps that was incredibly thin in 2020. With a 17th game added to the schedule having a group of linebackers that you can deploy in different situations will be incredibly important.

Jaylon Smith’s physical limitations have stood out more over the last couple of seasons. Those limitations appear to make it difficult for him to change direction. This is why the teams that have had the most success against the Cowboys’ defense over the past few years (even dating back to 2018) have employed heavy play-action and misdirection schemes. But despite those limitations, the Cowboys aren’t looking to move on from Jaylon Smith, even if a trade opportunity arose this Summer, as Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling suggested yesterday.

Roling put together a piece outlining an NFL veteran for each team that could be on the roster bubble.

Here’s what he had to say:

With (Micah) Parsons and (Jabrili) Cox now in the fray alongside 2018 No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch, Smith may be expendable. If the Cowboys can find a willing trade partner for him, they might prefer giving more snaps to their younger linebackers.

Chris Roling, Bleacher Report

The Dallas Cowboys expended considerable capital in both the draft and free agency to bolster their linebacker unit. Even with Parsons, Cox, and safety Keanu Neal making the transition to linebacker, there’s still a role for Jaylon Smith on this team.

Parsons is going to be used as a Swiss Army Knife in Dan Quinn’s defense. His versatility will allow Quinn to rush him off the edge or be used as a blitzer. His speed makes him a player the team could use to spy opposing quarterbacks when they face a player like Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jabril Cox will be a good player, but he’s not ready to take on a full linebacker snap count. Rarely are fourth-round picks able to step in and play right away and find success.

Dak Prescott entered the chat. 

Jaylon Smith may not be the player he was in his breakout season in 2018. And while I’ve even been hard on him at times, it’s clear the Cowboys’ defensive line has struggled on the interior in recent seasons. Much like it is for running backs if the guys in front of you aren’t playing well, it makes that person’s job much more difficult.

With heavy investments along the Cowboys’ defensive interior, there’s a chance Smith returns to the form we saw a few years ago when he earned his first Pro Bowl berth (2019).

Jaylon Smith isn’t going anywhere. There is no cap savings by cutting him, and even if the Dallas Cowboys were to save money by trading him, what benefit would that be to them now. They’ve got around $6 million in cap space at the moment and will have more by the end of training camp.

For better or worse, but hopefully better, Jaylon Smith is with the Dallas Cowboys for 2021, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s here for the tenure of his contract that runs through 2022. The Cowboys’ front office loves Jaylon. With expected team defensive improvement and a salary cap expected to rise, the Cowboys won’t feel the urgency to move on from him anytime soon.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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  1. I like the Cox and Parsons picks. Hopefully one of these kids will send Jaylon by Smith packing. An idiotic clown that doesn’t belong in Dallas!!!

  2. He does some uncanny shit true after what he went through physical and mental to make pro bowl give him another chance the organization likes something they see

  3. Save your personal view for yourself! The man was injured in college on a dirty play by an olineman in Detroit No one ever brings up. Jayson is blessed to be in this position and Jerry and the front office love him and his pillar of the community mentality! Just gave 1.5 MM in the City of Frisco. Though you may not like him, calling him a clown,you WILL not do on my watch!

  4. Jaylon will and should start and I hope he stays a Cowboy for a long career. Last years defensive failures seemed primarily from poor coaching decisions and preparation. So far Jaylon was apparently better at Mike than he was at Will. LVE was better at Will than at Mike. It will be exciting to see where the rookie Parsons starts; will he start at SLB to keep the other two in their ideal spots or will he start at Mike, moving Jaylon to SLB. At Will, LVE has Cox and Neal to rotate in if needed. Either way definitely expect them all to play better than 2020.

  5. smith does make a fool of himself on the field! smith needs to concentrate on playing good and less about stupid celebrations

  6. I agree about Jaylon Smith, he is a good player and I don’t think he’s going anywhere anytime soon!! But one thing I do have to disagree with is the little statement made about Jabril Cox and…. I think he will be good enough to start, or at least get some playing time this season!! Just because he was drafted in the 4th round it doesn’t mean he’s a 4th round talent!! He should’ve been drafted in the 2nd round or even the late 1st round!! The only reason he fell to the 4th round was because he was injured and didn’t get to do his pro day until the day before the draft I think it was!! So yeah, most 4th round players usually don’t see the field early in their career, but Jabril Cox isn’t a normal 4th round player!!

  7. I think the D especially should pull back on the celebrations until it really amounts to significant achievements i.e. playoff success. Some of what they do is a bit over the top. Celebrations on 2nd down and giving up 3rd and long frustrates me to no end.

  8. Perception or opinion. Some fans, me included, have an opinion that Smith is not necessarily a very good LB. It doesn’t matter if he is ‘not going anywhere” or not. These opinions are based on play ON THE FIELD.

    In my opinion, he is not very quick, prime example of this is when he has opponents square in front of him, and they EASILY run right around him. I’ve seen this numerous times, and it’s pretty embarrassing. Many of his tackles are tardy, meaning made well PASSED the LOS. He rarely gets home when blitzing. And his shed ability is not great. Throw in the stupid ill time celebrations, and all this adds up to NOT A VERY GOOD LB. I think he is overated by many. He is an above average LB.

    I loved his comeback story from the cheap shot injury, and liked the pick when they drafted him and rooted for him to get back to his former level, (which appears he never quite did).. But all that does not mean his shortcomings are to be ignored. My two cents.

    I love our 1st rounder, Parsons, and our steal in the 4th round, Cox. This should improve our LB position, which obviously needed as infusion with LVE injury history and losing J Thomas to FA. And of course Smith’s some level of regression.

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